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Wine Tips & Etiquette

 

Welcome to ProWineGuide.com!

Take a tip from a pro: “Location, Location, Location” is the secret to finding the best bottle of wine for your budget. Throughout my 30+ years in the wine distribution industry, I have found labels that tie wines as closely as possible to their grape source to be the best indicator of quality vs. price. This closely parallels the concepts of farm-to-table sourcing of foods as a measure of quality. Working within your budget, check off at least 2 of these 3 items from the bottle label:
1) Region/Appellation (Ex: Napa Valley AVA, Sonoma County AVA, Bordeaux or Rhone Valley),
2) Sub-appellation (Ex: Rutherford, Alexander Valley, Haut-Medoc or Chateauneuf-du-Pape),
3) Estate or Chateau bottled and/or named vineyard.
You will often see unfamiliar wineries on wine lists. Fear not! These small production boutique wineries represent some of the best examples of their varietals. Having tasted wine from countries, regions, appellations, sub-appellations, estates and vineyards across the globe, I follow these very same guidelines myself when selecting a bottle.
And while you’re searching for that Goldilocks bottle to match your entree selection, think about beginning your dining event with a bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne. Bubbles pair with everything!
I believe that there’s a taste of time, place and passion in every bottle. Welcome to this timeless journey!
Dale Blankenship
Founder, ProWineGuide.com and Umami.Life

Restaurant Wine Rituals

The ritual of tasting wine from a bottle that you’ve ordered in a restaurant can be intimidating, so here’s a quick guide. Not just for show, it also helps you determine if a bottle is acceptable or tainted. Wines with traditional cork closures may occasionally exhibit the chemical compound TCA. These days, cork-tainted wines account for 4% or less of the wines to hit the market. A winemaker may opt to use a Stelvin closure (screw cap) instead of cork. The type of closure does not reflect upon the quality of the wine, only the preference of the winemaker.

Step by step, here’s the cheat sheet on the ritual:


1. Presentation of the Bottle

The wine specialist or server presents the bottle for inspection to the person who ordered the wine. Read over the label to ensure that it’s the wine you ordered. Feel free to touch the bottle to determine whether its’ temperature seems to be correct. Whites should be chilled, but not icy cold. Reds should have a slight coolness to them. If you’re satisfied with the bottle, nod your approval to the server.


2. Removal and Inspection of the Cork

The server removes the cork and places it in front of you. Inspect the cork and sniff it to make sure it’s in good condition. In rare instances, a wine may be so tainted the the cork itself will have an unpleasant odor. Even less often, the cork might be wet and shriveled or dry and crumbly. A cork that’s less than perfect suggests that air has infiltrated the wine and spoiled it. Don’t be too quick to reject a bottle if the cork raises your suspicions. Wait to smell or taste the wine itself. Corked wines can range from muted aromas/fruit to full-on wet, moldy cardboard aromas and zero fruit. TCA is an equal opportunity spoiler impacting wine in every price range. In other cases, the wine may need time to open up. If the bottle has a Stelvin closure, this step will be skipped.


3. Pour, Swirl, Sniff and Sip

The server pours a small amount of wine into your glass and waits. You swirl the wine in the glass, take a sniff, a little sip and then indicate whether you find the wine acceptable. If the wine is fine, you can nod your approval or say, “It’s fine.” If something is wrong with the wine, now is the time to return it. If you decide that the bottle is unacceptable, describe to the server what you find wrong with the wine. If the wine specialist or server agrees that it’s a bad bottle, he may bring you another bottle of the same, or he may ask if you would like to select another wine. Either way, the ritual repeats itself.


4. Serving the Table

If you accept the wine, the server pours the wine into your guests’ glasses and ends with yours.
Cheers!


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  • Just A Glass, Please

    La Marca Prosecco (187ml)

    Italy, Prosecco DOC Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Delicate, golden straw color and lively effervescence. Aromas of fresh citrus, honey and white flowers. The palate is fresh and clean, with flavors of ripe lemon, green apple and grapefruit framed by mineral undertones.

    $8

    Glass

    Anna de Codorniu Rosé Cava

    Spain, DO Cava Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Delicate cherry color with strawberry tones. Fine and persistent bubbles. Aromas of red fruit, strawberries, cherries and woodland fruits with hints of green apple. On the palate it is elegant and light. Well balanced between acidity and sweetness with a refreshing finish.

    $8

    Glass

    $30

    Bottle

    Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut (187ml)

    France, Champagne, Epernay Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Distinguished by its’ bright fruitiness, seductive palate and elegant maturity. An elegant color of golden straw yellow with green highlights.

    $18

    Glass

    $18

    Bottle

    AVA Grace Rosé

    California Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Bright with a nose of wild roses. The palate showcases a fresh, crisp, dry style, boasting with flavors of apricot, honeysuckle and balanced acidity. A silky, medium-bodied mouthfeel is rounded out with a delicately dry finish.

    $8

    Glass

    $24

    Bottle

    Fleur de Mer Rosé

    France, Côtes de Provence Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Brilliant coral pink color with aromas and flavors of fresh watermelon, cherry, subtle citrus, lavender and Mediterranean herbs. Medium-bodied, fresh and elegant with a soft texture and mineral finish. Balanced and refreshing acidity.

    $12

    Glass

    $36

    Bottle

    Barone Fini Pinot Grigio

    Italy, Trentino-Valdadige DOC Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Crisp and clean, focused on the palate, with subtle fruit flavors, balanced acidity and a lingering finish.

    $10

    Glass

    $30

    Bottle

    Imagery Sauvignon Blanc

    California Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Subtle honeysuckle aromas gently perfume the nose. Vibrant notes of citrus, lemon-lime and grapefruit play on the tongue as a hint of dry Muscat (15%) lends refinement and softness to the finish.

    View Video

    $11

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon

    Australia, Margaret River Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Intense nose revealing yellow peach, melon, passionfruit, lemon zest and juniper berry aromas, topped by a hint of white pepper corn. Fresh vibrancy on the palate develops into citrus and melon characteristics. Textural and rich, the long, zesty finish is accompanied by minerality.

    View Video

    $12

    Glass

    $36

    Bottle

    Meiomi Chardonnay

    California Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Smooth, opulent layers of pineapple and lemon peel are heightened by sweet smells of honey, almonds, baking spices and subtle custard notes. The full flavors are highlighted by succulent acidity and a clean, mineral-driven finish.

    $11

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    The Calling Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

    CA, Sonoma Coast Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Clean and fresh on the nose with notes of Meyer lemon and Asian pear. Crisp acidity on the palate is balanced with bright fruit notes of pear, Gravenstein apple and citrus and a refreshing, elegant finish.

    $13

    Glass

    $39

    Bottle

    LangeTwins Moscato

    CA, Clarksburg Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Lively bouquet of peaches, apricot, orange blossom and honeysuckle. On the palate, flavors mirror the aroma with natural sweetness balanced by a slight sparkle that gives the wine a light body and crisp finish.

    $8

    Glass

    $24

    Bottle

    SkyFall Vyd Riesling

    WA, Columbia Valley Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Aromas of nectarine, white peach and honey. Flavors of stone fruit blossoms, lemongrass and tangerine with balanced sweetness and elegant acidity.

    $10

    Glass

    $30

    Bottle

    Conundrum White Blend

    California Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Exotic and ever so slightly sweet with layers of peach, apricot nectar, green melon and pear, overlaid with subtle notes of citrus zest and spicy vanilla. A rich, round mouth feel supported by fresh acidity brings the complexity of this wine into balance.

    View Video

    $12

    Glass

    $36

    Bottle

    Elouan Pinot Noir

    Oregon Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Flavors of red plum, bright cherry, minerality, dusty earth and a hint of sweet tobacco, creating layers of flavor with soft refined tannins. The palate shows texture and weight with firm acidity.

    View Video

    $12

    Glass

    $36

    Bottle

    Gabbiano Chianti Classico

    Italy, Chianti Classico DOCG Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Deep ruby red color, while the nose exhibits floral aromas of violets and a ripe array of red wild berries. The dry, full-bodied palate is perfectly balanced with flavors that echo the nose. The tannins are sweet, smooth and mouth-filling and the finish is clean.

    View Video

    $8

    Glass

    $24

    Bottle

    Beronia Crianza

    Spain, Rioja DOC Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Fresh, herbaceous aromas of thyme and rosemary mingle with fruity berry notes then becoming complex developing aromas of orange and cinnamon. Equally complex on the palate with sweet flavors of vanilla and milk chocolate from the American oak. Pleasant, full-bodied with a very long finish.

    $11

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    Ruta 22 Malbec

    Argentina, Mendoza Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    High altitude vineyards create ideal conditions for growing Malbec grapes that produce wines with intense, complex flavors and exceptional structure. Aromas of ripe blackberry with hints of vanilla. Concentrated on the palate, yet soft and smooth with subtle oak on the finish.

    $11

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    Barossa Valley Est Cabernet Sauvignon

    Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Small berries produce wines of intense flavor and distinctive varietal character. Expressive dark plum with a seductive blackcurrant richness. Highly expressive and wonderfully complex with subtle mint and rich dark chocolate notes.

    $12

    Glass

    $36

    Bottle

    Joseph Carr Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

    CA, Paso Robles Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Featuring aromas of blackberry, chocolate and blueberry preserves. Plush on the mid-palate with silky tannins but firm acidity, showing rich black fruit on the long finish. Aged in French oak, 40% new, for 16 to 18 months.

    $12

    Glass

    $36

    Bottle

  • Sparkling & Champagne

    La Marca Prosecco (187ml)

    Italy, Prosecco DOC Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Delicate, golden straw color and lively effervescence. Aromas of fresh citrus, honey and white flowers. The palate is fresh and clean, with flavors of ripe lemon, green apple and grapefruit framed by mineral undertones.

    $8

    Glass

    Anna de Codorniu Rosé Cava

    Spain, DO Cava Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Delicate cherry color with strawberry tones. Fine and persistent bubbles. Aromas of red fruit, strawberries, cherries and woodland fruits with hints of green apple. On the palate it is elegant and light. Well balanced between acidity and sweetness with a refreshing finish.

    $8

    Glass

    $30

    Bottle

    Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut (187ml)

    France, Champagne, Epernay Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Distinguished by its’ bright fruitiness, seductive palate and elegant maturity. An elegant color of golden straw yellow with green highlights.

    $18

    Glass

    $18

    Bottle

  • Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé

    Barone Fini Pinot Grigio

    Italy, Trentino-Valdadige DOC Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Crisp and clean, focused on the palate, with subtle fruit flavors, balanced acidity and a lingering finish.

    $10

    Glass

    $30

    Bottle

    AVA Grace Rosé

    California Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Bright with a nose of wild roses. The palate showcases a fresh, crisp, dry style, boasting with flavors of apricot, honeysuckle and balanced acidity. A silky, medium-bodied mouthfeel is rounded out with a delicately dry finish.

    $8

    Glass

    $24

    Bottle

    Fleur de Mer Rosé

    France, Côtes de Provence Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Brilliant coral pink color with aromas and flavors of fresh watermelon, cherry, subtle citrus, lavender and Mediterranean herbs. Medium-bodied, fresh and elegant with a soft texture and mineral finish. Balanced and refreshing acidity.

    $12

    Glass

    $36

    Bottle

    Imagery Sauvignon Blanc

    California Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Subtle honeysuckle aromas gently perfume the nose. Vibrant notes of citrus, lemon-lime and grapefruit play on the tongue as a hint of dry Muscat (15%) lends refinement and softness to the finish.

    View Video

    $11

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon

    Australia, Margaret River Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Intense nose revealing yellow peach, melon, passionfruit, lemon zest and juniper berry aromas, topped by a hint of white pepper corn. Fresh vibrancy on the palate develops into citrus and melon characteristics. Textural and rich, the long, zesty finish is accompanied by minerality.

    View Video

    $12

    Glass

    $36

    Bottle

  • Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White

    Meiomi Chardonnay

    California Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Smooth, opulent layers of pineapple and lemon peel are heightened by sweet smells of honey, almonds, baking spices and subtle custard notes. The full flavors are highlighted by succulent acidity and a clean, mineral-driven finish.

    $11

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    The Calling Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

    CA, Sonoma Coast Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Clean and fresh on the nose with notes of Meyer lemon and Asian pear. Crisp acidity on the palate is balanced with bright fruit notes of pear, Gravenstein apple and citrus and a refreshing, elegant finish.

    $13

    Glass

    $39

    Bottle

    Stags’ Leap Winery Chardonnay

    CA, Napa Valley Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Aromas of citrus, fresh green apple with hints of elderflower. On the palate, lemon curd with a nutty hazelnut undertone and spicy white pepper, exotic floral finish. Roundness in texture that is balanced (hinting at the delicate battonage lees stirring during the winemaking process).

    View Video

    $45

    Bottle

  • Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet

    LangeTwins Moscato

    CA, Clarksburg Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Lively bouquet of peaches, apricot, orange blossom and honeysuckle. On the palate, flavors mirror the aroma with natural sweetness balanced by a slight sparkle that gives the wine a light body and crisp finish.

    $8

    Glass

    $24

    Bottle

    SkyFall Vyd Riesling

    WA, Columbia Valley Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Aromas of nectarine, white peach and honey. Flavors of stone fruit blossoms, lemongrass and tangerine with balanced sweetness and elegant acidity.

    $10

    Glass

    $30

    Bottle

    Conundrum White Blend

    California Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Exotic and ever so slightly sweet with layers of peach, apricot nectar, green melon and pear, overlaid with subtle notes of citrus zest and spicy vanilla. A rich, round mouth feel supported by fresh acidity brings the complexity of this wine into balance.

    View Video

    $12

    Glass

    $36

    Bottle

  • Fruity, Light-Bodied Red

    Elouan Pinot Noir

    Oregon Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Flavors of red plum, bright cherry, minerality, dusty earth and a hint of sweet tobacco, creating layers of flavor with soft refined tannins. The palate shows texture and weight with firm acidity.

    View Video

    $12

    Glass

    $36

    Bottle

    Etude Pinot Noir

    CA, Carneros Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Core of red fruit is with complex layers of sassafras, sandalwood and baking spice that build in intensity through the finish. An opulent mouthfeel and ideal natural acidity showing substance and depth, yet lively and lifting throughout.

    View Video

    $58

    Bottle

    Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Pinot Noir

    CA, Santa Maria Valley, Clark & Telephone Vyd Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    The color is a deep scarlet-red with lush aromas of blackberry bramble, nutmeg, and hint of caramel. The wine is fresh and exuberant in the mouth with sumptuous strawberry jam, ripe black cherry, cranberry and warm gingerbread.

    View Video

    $69

    Bottle

  • Supple, Medium-Bodied Red

    Frescobaldi Castilglioni Chianti

    Italy, Tuscany, Chianti DOCG Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    A pleasing nose of blackberry, redcurrant and cherry preserve notes with touches of floral and spicy notes. In the mouth, the wine is lively and round and its fruity aromas return to the palate, giving a rich, fulfilling finish.

    View Video

    $11

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    Selvapiana Chianti Rufina

    Italy, Tuscany, Chianti Rufina DOCG Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Earthy aromas of wild red berries, freshly tilled soil, underbrush and violets align with a whiff of baking spice. The palate is elegant and fresh with flavors of red berries, licorice and plum to finish. Ripe, smooth tannins nicely balanced with fresh acidity.

    $30

    Bottle

    Allegrini Palazzo del Torre Red Blend

    Italy, Veronese IGT Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    The blend is the historic combination of Corvina and Rondinella with the addition of a small quantity of Sangiovese. A small percentage of the harvested grapes are left to dry out until December and then added to the previously vinified fresh grapes. The result is velvety, well-balanced.

    View Video

    $36

    Bottle

    Beronia Crianza

    Spain, Rioja DOC Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Fresh, herbaceous aromas of thyme and rosemary mingle with fruity berry notes then becoming complex developing aromas of orange and cinnamon. Equally complex on the palate with sweet flavors of vanilla and milk chocolate from the American oak. Pleasant, full-bodied with a very long finish.

    $11

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    Emmolo Merlot

    CA, Napa Valley Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    An open of lush scents of baking chocolate and fig, dried stone fruit, Christmas spice and wisps of Mesquite smoke. The palate is rich and supple finishing with earthy and smoky notes rounded out with tannins that are leathery and smooth.

    View Video

    $50

    Bottle

  • Bold, Full-Bodied Red

    Ruta 22 Malbec

    Argentina, Mendoza Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    High altitude vineyards create ideal conditions for growing Malbec grapes that produce wines with intense, complex flavors and exceptional structure. Aromas of ripe blackberry with hints of vanilla. Concentrated on the palate, yet soft and smooth with subtle oak on the finish.

    $11

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    Wagner Red Schooner Voyage

    Argentina, Mendoza Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Voyage

    This Malbec is made from grapes grown in the Andes Mountains, shipped chilled to Napa Valley. Offering scents of ripe plums and cherries, this wine is powerful and supple with flavors of French oak and soft tannins.

    View Video

    $55

    Bottle

    Barossa Valley Est Cabernet Sauvignon

    Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Small berries produce wines of intense flavor and distinctive varietal character. Expressive dark plum with a seductive blackcurrant richness. Highly expressive and wonderfully complex with subtle mint and rich dark chocolate notes.

    $12

    Glass

    $36

    Bottle

    Joseph Carr Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

    CA, Paso Robles Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Featuring aromas of blackberry, chocolate and blueberry preserves. Plush on the mid-palate with silky tannins but firm acidity, showing rich black fruit on the long finish. Aged in French oak, 40% new, for 16 to 18 months.

    $12

    Glass

    $36

    Bottle

    Quilt Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

    CA, Napa Valley Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    On the nose, a seamless blend of creme de cassis, hazelnut, cocoa, blackberry preserves, charred meat and blackberry pie. On the palate, rich and satisfying with chocolate brownie, yogurt, molasses, brown sugar and rhubarb notes presented in perfect balance with high-toned fruit emphasis.

    View Video

    $55

    Bottle

    Faust Cabernet Sauvignon

    CA, Napa Valley Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Hand-picked grapes from family vineyards in Rutherford and Coombsville are rounded out with small lots from other Napa Valley growers with spectacular mountain and valley terroirs. Aged in French oak barrels for 19 months. Ripe concentrated fruit flavors with hints of dried spice, medium to full body and supple tannins and a long finish.

    $70

    Bottle

    Murrieta’s Well The Spur Red Blend

    CA, Livermore Valley, Estate Vyds Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Fruit aromas of black cherry and blueberry, highlighted by subtle notes of sweet oak and earthy spice. Ripe tannic structure and balanced acidity. Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.

    $55

    Bottle

    Beringer Quantum Red Blend

    CA, Napa Valley Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Full of dark cherry, espresso, tobacco, and leather aromas. Notes of ripe plum, vanilla, and boysenberry jam are accented by a hint of sage and savory brown spices. A fleshy, distinctive wine with silken tannins and a lush, rounded profile.

    View Video

    $60

    Bottle

    Charles Krug Generations Meritage

    CA, Napa Valley Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    The vineyards of Charles Krug Winery are the foundation of Napa Valley’s oldest winery. Aromas of black cherry, coffee bean and blueberry segue to a medium-bodied wine with a long finish of ripe berry and toasty crème brûlée.

    $70

    Bottle

    Recchia Masùa di Jago Amarone

    Italy, Valpolicella DOCG Classico Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Deep ruby red with an intense, fruity, spicy and ethereal bouquet of fruit, jam and Mediterranean spices. Velvety and well rounded full-bodied taste, harmonic with a fine balance between acidity and softness.

    $65

    Bottle

    Enrico Serafino Barolo

    Italy, Piedmonte DOCG Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Traditional wine in multifaceted modern version — elegant and appealing. Intense bouquet with scent of licorice and tobacco, spices, leather and faded roses on the nose. On the palate complex, austere, harmonic and smooth with hint of blackberry, full-bodied with chewy tannins and pleasant finish.

    $69

    Bottle

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